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|Charges Against Bus Driver Dismissed
|The following account of the June 1 trial of the bus driver charged in the cycling death of Todd Weaver, is by Martin Zimmerman of B.I.K.E.S.
Hello all. I just got back into my emails after returning from the trial this afternoon and putting some housekeeping business to rest. Yes, this was a huge disappointment.
Here is how it went as I saw it:
In addition to Mark and two sons, Dan Faris from BIKES and myself were present and one other person I did not recognize from one of the bike clubs. That was all from the bicycle community. Only a few others in the court room. This was the primary case of the afternoon and lasted for about 1 hour.
The first witness was the police officer who wrote up the report on the accident. Speed of bus, speed of bike (28.9 mph at point of impact), evidence of tire skidding tracks (none), condition of bicycle, length of downhill slope, time of day, traffic volume. That sort of thing.
Next key witness - the law enforcement officer who delivered the warrant, and who took the witness stand did not explicitly state in the warrant what constituted a traffic violation or what the carelessness was on the part of the busdriver. The judge read the warrant word for word and pointed this omission out to all present. I am not sure the judge really had much of a choice but to call an end to it simply based on the faulty warrant.
Now the video. My statement to the news media emphasized the point that the official CATS video which was taken from the front of the bus as the accident unfolded (and which Mark Weaver was able to view before today's trial) was just.... a video, and that the judge admitted to this. But this video dominated the court proceedings and was replayed about six-seven times stopping when necessary to look closer at details. I won't get into all of what we saw except to say that the District Attorney's lawyer failed to realize how important it was to disect this video and to counter point-by-point the defense lawyer who obviously was relying on it to make his client's case.
In essence his defense was that his client obeyed the traffic laws and took adequate precautions while turning despite glare in the front window of the bus and shadows across the road from harsh 5 p.m.
sunlight. Since Todd was clocked at an estimated 28 mph and the driver was moving at an estimated 10 mph as he turned from a complete stop, the implication, although not pushed by the defense lawyer, was that Todd was not paying attention, and in effect was traveling at 3 times the speed of the bus driver.
Suffice it to say that the District Attorney's lawyer failed miserably by not responding as anyone,myself included, would assume.
You can easily imagine what this did to Mark. He met in private with the DA's attorney briefly afterwards and then joined me outside the buiding to talk to the media. He said to the newsmedia that the family will meet to decide what to do next in terms of whether or not to take civil action. If you saw him you could see how composed he was, but I can assure you that his feelings were otherwise.
The driver appeared distraught afterwards, and my heart bleeds for him. I think it is important to keep in perspective that he was not under the influence of alcohol or other subsance abuses and that it is fair to assume this was not an intentional act on his part.
This particular incident may well have been a tragic story that began and ended in less the 5 seconds.
In my statement to the media I tried to emphasize that the general public lost an opportunity to understand the vulnerability of bicyclists on our streets, even when they are riding intelligently and carefully.
Bus drivers and others are not yet vigilant of cyclists' presence, even in broad daylig
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